A third problem with the national interest is that the homogenization of individual preferences carries costs for the nationals themselves or for a large number of them, even if state propaganda tries to hide these costs. Diversified preferences, at least within a certain range, carry information and promote experimentation and innovation, from which wealth and individual flourishing spring. Hazony suggests that the diversity among national states compensates for this flaw. Although this is partly true, the benefits of international diversity are hard to capture for people who don’t travel much, don’t speak foreign languages, or don’t spend time living in different countries. In the United States, such people are a large majority.

This is from Pierre Lemieux, “The Tyranny of the National Interest,” the Econlib Feature Article for September.

As evidence for his last statement in the above paragraph, note the following:

Still, only 36 percent of Americans hold a valid passport, according to the State Department, compared to 60 percent of passport-holding Canadians and 75 percent for Brits and Aussies. That means almost 70 percent of us are unqualified for international travel. And in actuality, only one in five Americans travels abroad with regularity, according to a recent survey.


Read the whole thing.